iMac RAM & Drobo question for photo intensive work

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by OrangeCuse44, Sep 10, 2010.

  1. OrangeCuse44 macrumors 65816

    OrangeCuse44

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #1
    I have a 2 part question that hopefully has a simple answer. Firstly, I'm going to purchase an iMac which will be used primarily for photo editing via Aperture 3, Photomatix, PS CS5, and various editing plugins such as Nik Software and Topaz. I am between the 21.5" and 27" model and not because of screen size. The 27" can be upgraded to 16GB of RAM while the 21.5" can only go to 8 gigs. Would 8 gigs suit me just fine for this purpose while 16 gigs would be overkill or would I see substantial gains from 16 gigs of RAM?

    Part 2 is I am interested in purchasing a Drobo as well. Aside from being a backup for my photos, can you house your work on the Drobo while making edits to these referenced files in Aperture/PS/etc? Trying to figure out if I would need to upgrade the base 1TB HD to a 2TB drive. Sorry for the long post, but any help is gratefully appreciated.
     
  2. emorydunn macrumors 6502

    emorydunn

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    #2
    Aperture loves eating up system resources but I'm really not sure how an extra 8GB of RAM would affect performance. It should be faster but I'm not sure by how much or if it would be noticeable. But, one thing that I've learned is the more RAM the batter and really at the end of the day you can never have too much (although it may be overkill of the process). Now this doesn't necessarily mean choose the bigger version because 8GB may be more than enough but if the price difference isn't something that scares you then there is nothing wrong with a bigger screen and more RAM.

    As for the Drobo, I'm looking at getting one as well, and it should act like a normal hard drive. Meaning you can put your files on it and it will act no different. The biggest thing to be aware of is making sure all of your files are transferred properly. If you use a managed library this won't be a problem but if you have referenced files you need to make sure they maintain their folder structure so you can reconnect them after the move.
     
  3. SOLLERBOY macrumors 6502a

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    Location:
    UK
    #3
    My late 09 27" has 8gb RAM wich is fine for aperture. Under heavy load it uses about 6GB and the other free 2 can handle itunes/system/mail/safari etc. Go with the 27 for the screen real estate.
     
  4. RHVC59 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    May 10, 2008
    Location:
    St. Johns, Portland, Oregon
    #4
    Go for the Drobo!
    My current setup:
    1) LR3 on MPB 2.1 core 2 duo
    2) Images stored on DroboFS hanging of the back of a Timecapsule.
    I can work on the standard sized previews when away from my wireless network.
    3) When away from the network, I import images on to my laptop, and move the photos to the Drobo when i get home, or import other images placed on the Drobo by other people in the house..

    All in all a great set up for me.

    The 5 bay Drobo FS now has 5 1TB disks in it, giving me a total of 3.58TB of usable backed up space.
    I also point Time-machine to the Drobo.:D
     
  5. ntrigue macrumors 68040

    ntrigue

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    Jul 30, 2007
    #5
    You could also partition the Drobo but with Time Machine you cannot have enough space.
     
  6. OrangeCuse44 thread starter macrumors 65816

    OrangeCuse44

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    Oct 25, 2006
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    #6
    So for the drobo, I can actually partition some to handle an entire time machine backup and the rest for straight file storage such as my aperture library and iTunes? Do you find working on aperture photos that reside on the drobo to be slower than ones stored internally?

    Anymore input on the ram?
     
  7. emorydunn macrumors 6502

    emorydunn

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    #7
    Since the Drobo will be FireWire 800 you shouldn't noticed any speed change. And you should be fine with 8GB of RAM. I run Aperture on my MBP with only 4GB (although I'm going to upgrade to 8GB soon). I don't think there would be a noticeable speed difference between 8 and 16. But, as I said before, having more (or the possibility) of more RAM is never bad.
     
  8. RHVC59 macrumors 6502

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    #8
    I do not notice it being any slower on having the images on the drobo. I am running with 6 GBs of ram. Attached is my drobo Share set up..:)
     

    Attached Files:

  9. 1point21gigawat macrumors newbie

    1point21gigawat

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    Sep 12, 2010
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #9
    I think there are at least a couple of things to address with both topics you brought up…*unfortunately, neither is really an easy answer. :)

    When you're talking about a 27" vs the 21.5 for photo or video editing, I think there are three things you should really consider: the size of your workspace (display), the memory you have to work with (now and later) and your graphics card options.

    I'm sure you have seen the size differences of the two displays, so it should be no surprise that you just have a ton more room and can see much more of your photos on the 27" display. I won't really spend a lot of time pointing out that.

    Memory is something you should think about now as well as in the future. Aperture 3 likes RAM. A lot. So, think about not only what Aperture 3 demands from your camera, but think about what Aperture 4 (whenever that happens) might require of your next camera (whenever that happens). Will that be something to concern before you buy the computer after the one you're choosing now? The answer is probably yes.

    I shoot a Canon 5D Mark II, and I do so almost exclusively in RAW. The files from that camera range anywhere from 21 – 28MB each, so importing and using processor/RAM/graphics card intensive features like skin smoothing really put my computer to work. As my business grows, I might find a need to buy a camera in 2 years. I want to know that my iMac is expandable enough that I can throw in enough RAM to handle the challenge. I only have 8GB now, but if I need another 8GB in the future then I have the room for it…*and it will be cheaper to buy later on anyway.

    The last consideration is the graphics card. The 21.5" iMac can be built with a card handling up to 512MB graphics memory and the 27" iMac can be built with a card up to 1GB of graphics memory. Think about what your needs might be in 2-3 years. Think about what the software needs might be in 2-3 years.

    On the topic of the Drobo, you can absolutely store your master files on the Drobo and work the reference files in Aperture. However, I wouldn't partition. Drobo software is really smart and it will take care of all of that for you. All you have to do is set up whatever your file structure will be for your back up and select it as your Time Machine back up drive. OS X and Drobo will take care of everything else.

    Because I work with large files and I tend to need to work quickly, I really only use the Drobo for long-term storage (my 4-Bay Drobo will expand up to 16TB) and Time Machine. My current-project files are stored on my solid state internal drive so that I can work more quickly and the completed project libraries are all stored on the Drobo, along with scanned copies of the signed client contracts, order sheets, etc. Even though the Drobo is working over FireWire 800, it still isn't as fast as your internal hard drive or solid state drive.

    I hope something I said helps. :)
     
  10. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Apr 14, 2001
    Location:
    Sendai, Japan
    #10
    Yes, you can partition your drobo, although I don't see any reason why you should. You can use the same volume which you use for Time Machine for other things as well.
    The internal drive(s) will definitely be significantly faster than the Drobo. IMO that only matters for active projects, which you currently work on, for backups, music and movies, the Drobo is plenty fast.
    In my opinion, 8 GB is the least amount of RAM you should get these days if you want to use Aperture. Even if you only get 8 GB now, it's better to be able to upgrade the RAM in the future.
     
  11. OrangeCuse44 thread starter macrumors 65816

    OrangeCuse44

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    Long Island, NY
    #11
    Even with FireWire 800 the internal drive would be way faster working with photos?
     
  12. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Apr 14, 2001
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    Sendai, Japan
    #12
    Yes.
    The fastest 3.5 SATA drives have a sustained throughput of ~100 MB/s. The new Drobo S is capable of ~70 MB/s via eSATA (which isn't bad given the added complexity of the Drobo's file system), you can only expect half of that performance when connected via FireWire 800.

    RAW files are relatively large (10~20 MB a piece) and typically, many of them are read in rapid succession. A typical project in my library consists of 50~200 photos -- you do the math. If you want all those photos to just fit in your computer's RAM, you realize why Aperture and Lightroom are such RAM hogs. And why disk performance is important.

    That being said, I wouldn't worry about that for most applications, e. g. long-term storage of photos, etc. However, unless you have a library in the TB range, there is plenty of space on the internal hard drive. Even if you run out of space there, you can still create a second library containing your old projects on the Drobo.
     
  13. ntrigue macrumors 68040

    ntrigue

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    #13
    If you provide more details on your space requirements I could go into more partitioning details.

    Generally, the Time Machine should be a) a separate drive and b) 150%+ the size of your internal.

    In other words, 1TB iMac internal. Partition 1TB of Drobo for Archive. Partition 2TB for Time Machine.
     
  14. 1point21gigawat macrumors newbie

    1point21gigawat

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    Sep 12, 2010
    Location:
    Toronto, Ontario
    #14
    Here are the instructions for partitioning the Drobo, but I will say that I don't actually think it's very necessary. Since the Drobo is made to be expandable up to a maximum of 16TB for the smallest Drobo and 32TB for the largest, you're not likely to run out of room, even as a professional photographer and videographer, for quite some time.

    The only benefit that I can really think of to partitioning is basically cutting off how much of your drive space your Time Machine backups will use over time.

    Anywho, here is the link. :)

    http://support.datarobotics.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/119
     
  15. OrangeCuse44 thread starter macrumors 65816

    OrangeCuse44

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island, NY
    #15
    Thanks so much everyone for the truly helpful responses. I went to the Apple store yesterday ready to go with the 21" and literally at the last second my wife said okay we can get the 27" (hooray!). I wanted to do this more for the max RAM than the screen size (although it is IMPRESSIVELY large).

    I stayed with the 1TB drive and plan on going with a Drobo in the near future for a TM & file archiving (photos & iTunes). OreoCookie, good idea on only maintaining current projects internally and throwing everything else on the Drobo.

    Thanks again everyone!
     
  16. edddeduck macrumors 68020

    edddeduck

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    Mar 26, 2004
    #16
    I use Aperture and even with loads of RAM the biggest boost I got was from installing an SSD drive. Opening large libraries went from many seconds or minutes to load them all in to just a few seconds. Scrolling huge image libraries was almost instant using that as an example if you do use a Drobo your speed will be lower even with 16GB of RAM as the access speed will be much slower.

    As a backup drive or anything where raw speed is not needed they are brilliant, but if you need speed I drobo is not the best solution.

    Edwin

    Edwin
     
  17. Full of Win macrumors 68030

    Full of Win

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    #17
    The Drobo FS network speed is pathetic for its price level. If you are going to spend that kind of money, look at a ReadyNAS Pro or QNAP.

    If Data Robotics took their podcasting advertising budget and devoted it to R&D, then it may have produced a better product.
     
  18. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Sendai, Japan
    #18
    Actually, the Drobo S offers pretty good transfer rates if connected via eSATA. If you connect it via USB or FireWire, you're limited by the interface. And unlike all its competitors, you can easily expand it.
     
  19. edddeduck macrumors 68020

    edddeduck

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    Mar 26, 2004
    #19
    Drobo's are the simplest and most basic solution if you want an external hard disk to connect to your single computer. It's simple and easy to use that is the biggest bonus.

    Synology (and QNAP) have easy expansion of your drives including increasing RAID sizes on the fly when you add new HD's which is the Drobo's main trick.

    Apart from for the same size being a little cheaper than Drobos, the Synology and QNAP products support way more features and can run and provide user controlled access to different folders even remotely or to iOS devices all with your iMac turned off and just the NAS drive running.

    As someone how has used both I would say you should have a look at QNAP and Synology and see if they will cover your needs better as they have devices in the same price range. The drobo might in the end be the best solution but it's worth spending an hour having a look.

    Edwin
     
  20. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    #20
    You're aware that RAIDs require identical volume sizes (if you use hard drives of different sizes, then the capacity of the RAID is determined by the smallest hard drive). So if you want to expand your RAID, you need to replace all hard drives.

    This is not so with the Drobo, you can mix and match hard drives. This is quite an advantage in my opinion, well worth the extra money.
    Features like what? (I'm curious, I don't own a NAS.)

    If I want to access my files over the internet, I can just configure a Mac to do that for me (I use dyndns and ssh tunneling to access stuff on my parents' Mac mini).
     
  21. edddeduck macrumors 68020

    edddeduck

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    Mar 26, 2004
    #21
    Most types of RAID you are correct with your comment on HD sizes however many RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks) solutions like the Drobo and Synology have a more intelligent solution so you can use more of the hard drive space when mixing HD sizes. The solution Drobo came up with is not unique to Drobos is exists on many other devices as well.

    You can mix and match HD's with Synology they also have exactly the same feature (and I think QNAP as well). Synology Call their solution Hybrid RAID.

    You can swap out older smaller drives for new ones and the synology will automatically rebuild the RAID taking advantage of the new drive it is just as featured as a Drobo in this regard.

    Synology or a QNAP can do loads of things that a Drobo cannot on it's own, here is a small list of a few of them.

    * DLNA Media Server (360 and PS3)
    * iTunes Media server
    * Webserver
    * Secure FTP over internet
    * Bit-torrent server
    * USB print server
    * IP Camera survailance (including motion sensing and email alerts)
    * Mail server
    * Remote Pictures and Data sharing with iOS devices
    * Privilege management for different users
    * Time Machine supported
    * Create multiple mount points for PC/Linux/Mac
    * Install 3rd party apps
    * Does not require a Mac/PC to host or run
    * Saves power compared to running a Mac
    * RAID Formats can be rebuilt using a linux box

    Quick check of UK Prices:

    4 Bay Drobo - £280
    4 Bay Synology - £230

    Basically a Drobo is nice but not the most powerful solution or the cheapest. Drobo is a neat solution with good marketing but A Synology 410j is a good alternative to look at.

    Edwin
     
  22. OreoCookie macrumors 68030

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    Apr 14, 2001
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    Sendai, Japan
    #22
    It is unique in the sense that it's plug & play. You don't need to configure anything beforehand, just remove a drive and replace it.
    At least QNAP specifically says that all four drives need to be replaced. But it's nice to see that other companies try to make such a feature user-friendly.

    Nevertheless, I still think the Drobo is the easiest to use for consumers, it's plug and play. I think that's worth extra money for most people.*
    I think you're comparing apples to oranges here: the Drobo is not a NAS, so it's hardly surprising it doesn't have the features you list. (Some of the items you list do not differentiate the Synology from the Drobo, the Drobo is Time Machine compatible, for instance.)
    The 410j doesn't have an eSATA port and is slower. The DS410 (without j) is slightly more expensive than the 4-port Drobo.


    * If you know what you're doing, of course, you don't need this user-friendliness. For the price of a Drobo S (~750 €), I can build a small pc or buy an old server, install Open Solaris, FreeBSD or my favorite flavor of Linux on it and configure ZFS. It will for sure be faster, more flexible and offer more features. If I want something smaller, I'd get a plug pc (a Sheeva plug or something similar) which is small and fanless.

    If you decide to buy a Drobo or some other solution instead, you pay extra for plug & pay capability.
     
  23. edddeduck macrumors 68020

    edddeduck

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    Mar 26, 2004
    #23
    Once setup you can do the same (as far as I know) on the Synology.

    I would argue the Synology is still easy enough that it fits on the plug and play list even if it might not be as simple as the drobo.

    I know the Drobo is not a NAS (it can be with the very expensive hosting box).

    My point is the 410j (the cheaper solution instead of the 410) has all the features of a Drobo, is faster than a Drobo and also happens to be an amazing NAS drive as well.

    It is slower than the 410 but still faster than the Drobo in my experience.


    Yup I just think others have caught up and the Drobo ease of use advantage is slipping.

    Edwin
     
  24. Fionan macrumors newbie

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    Jun 10, 2012
    Location:
    Dublin, Ireland
    #24
    Once Drobo drives are full....

    Hi there,

    I'm new to the Forum so please excuse me if I've skipped the queue or not followed decorum properly - I couldn't find the place to ask a new question!

    I've bought a Drobo (basic model) with 4 x 2TR WD Green drives but want to know what happens when the drives are all full. I understand that files are spread across all drives so what happens when I remove say 3 of them (because they're all full) but want to access a particular job later on? Will that job be all over the place?! I really want my jobs to be accessible in a single safe place.....Should I buy an external single sata drive dock? Any help would be much appreciated!

    Fionan
     
  25. sapporobaby macrumors 68000

    sapporobaby

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    #25
    Hi. I have a Drobo S with 5 bays. I would not have bought the WD Green drives as they have a tendency to fail. The better buy would have been the WD Caviar Blacks as these are enterprise drives. Anyway, you can remove the drives at will however you do not want to remove them all at once. If you are using a RAID 5 configuration your actual useable space will be smaller. What it sounds like from your description is that you are using a RAID 0 configuration with spreads your files across all the drives. This is dangerous as you have no backup at all. If one drive fails, then all your data is lost. You can buy a SATA drive as a backup, but you might want to configure you your Drobo in a RAID 5 configuration to provide backup capabilities.
     

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